Propagation vectors and propagation pathways of invasive perennial lupins in the Rhön UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
To be able to provide management recommendations and prevent further propagation, knowledge about the propagation paths and propagation vectors of the perennial lupine (Lupinus polyphyllus) at landscape level is essential. This paper presents the results of investigations in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Rhön, Germany, focusing on three propagation processes: (a) ballochore spreading of the perennial lupine, (b) hemerochore spread over agricultural vehicles and (c) endozoochore spread by sheep droppings. In (a), the self-propagation of the perennial lupine via the process of ballochory was investigated. In (b), it was determined to what extent agricultural management (mowing and grazing) promotes the propagation of perennial lupins and whether these uses represent a conflict in the conservation of typical mountain meadow species. For this purpose, the spread over agricultural vehicles (mowers) and the endozoochore propagation by sheep was investigated. The invasive perennial lupine spreads continuously in the Rhön UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and poses a serious threat to the mountain meadow ecosystems that occur there. The current experiments have shown that the self-propagation of perennial lupins is very effective. The seeds are spun out over three meters and the seeds are poured over several weeks. In both mower and sheep fecal samples, a variety of species could be detected, including only a few lupine individuals. It can be assumed that at least the endozoochore spread does not play a major role for perennial lupins. It remains unclear whether the epizoochore propagation is significant and to what extent the mowing date influences the spread of lupine via agricultural vehicles.